Maketu Marae - Cradle of Tainui
About Maketu Marae:
The first kumera were taken to Pakarikari, nearby to Aotea harbour and planted there by Whakaotirangi, one of Hoturoa's wives. Hoturoa invoked the blessing of the Gods over this and other first cultivations.
For the first few generations after arrival, they kept close to Maketu marae, spreading only slowly outwards from there. The land was fruitful and produced in plenty and the forests, wetlands and streams were full of edible birds, eels and other foods.
Auau-ki-te-rangi is the name of the ancestral carved house at Maketu marae, which was built and opened in 1962.
It was not the first meeting house to be built at Maketu marae, but it is certainly considered to be the most important, because of its ancestral name.
Auau-ki-te-rangi was an ariki (high chief) and the father of Hoturoa.
He remained in Hawaiiki when his second-born son Hoturoa sailed off on the Tainui canoe which together with other famous vessels, comprised the well remembered voyage of discovery which resulted in Maori settlement of Aotearoa.
Although Auau-ki-te-rangi never came in person to Aotearoa, his presence at Kawhia is a commanding one.
He stands as the ancestral carved house at Maketu to remind all Tainui descendants including those who left the canoe on the eastern coast and Hauraki gulf, that Maketu belongs equally to them all.
When there are issues of importance to all the Tainui tribes (or to the Tainui people as a single entity) their leaders usually demonstrate a preference for bringing those issues to Maketu, to the cradle of the tribe, to be discussed.
There are two reasons for this, one is that Maketu marae as the mooring place of the canoe belongs to all of Tainui decent, and they in turn belong to Maketu.
Because of this, all Tainui tribal voices can be heard as tangata whenua in Auaukiterangi. and none is disadvantaged as an outsider might be.
Secondly, any course of action decided upon or agreement made at Maketu maraeis sanctioned by the embrace of their common ancestor, Auaukiterangi.
On the harbourside of Auaukiterangi was the oldest standing building at Maketu marae.
Affectionately called Te Ruruhi (the Old Lady) by both the locals and their guests, this building was used as the dining hall ever since Auaukiterangi was opened in 1962.
Her story is much older than that, having served wharepuni, whare runanga, and whare kai for many decades before.
Coastal erosion threatened to undermine Te Ruruhi and send her toppling into the tide, but a sea wall was built by the local people in 1971 to protect her dignity and prolong her usefulness.
This wall has since been re-inforced in 2004. Until Auaukiterangi was built and dedicated, the Old Lady served both as a whare runanga and as a whare kai, although in accord with Tainui customs the cooking and preparation of food was done in an adjacent ponga kauta.
For many years the dishes were washed outside, often in the rain.